Ammunition shortages are letting Russia be the ‘alpha predator on the battlefield,’ US veteran in Ukraine says

Ammunition shortages are letting Russia be the ‘alpha predator on the battlefield,’ US veteran in Ukraine says
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Ukrainian servicemen fire a D-30 howitzer, surrounded by smoke and trees
Ukrainian servicemen of the 126th Separate Territorial Defence Brigade fire a D-30 howitzer towards Russian troops at a front lie position in Ukraine’s Kherson region in March 2024.

  • Russia can be the battlefield “alpha predator” due to Ukraine’s ammo shortages, a US veteran said.
  • Ukraine can usually use artillery to let its infantry advance and take on Russia, he said.
  • But the shortages mean Ukraine can’t do this and has to instead ration what ammo it does have.

Ukraine’s ammunition shortages are allowing Russia to be the “alpha predator on the battlefield,” a US veteran fighting in Ukraine said.

The veteran, call sign “Jackie,” has been in Ukraine since 2022. As an assault instructor serving in the 3rd Assault Brigade, he said the ammunition shortages that have worsened since US aid stalled have given Russia a deep advantage.

Jackie said that because Ukraine doesn’t have enough artillery, Russia has “free reign.” He said the Russians “are that alpha predator on the battlefield. They are able to mass the artillery fires directly onto our infantry and our armor.”

Since the start of Russia’s war, Ukraine has often been at a disadvantage in terms of weaponry, ammunition, and manpower, experts and Western intelligence say. Jackie said Ukraine’s troops fighting against Russia’s invasion are used to fighting with less artillery than the Russians.

He said Ukraine has still often been able to beat Russia because of better tactics and training, a view taken by most observers to explain how Ukraine has been able to stop Russia from taking over the country and even take back some territory from Russia in the east despite having a much smaller military.

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But the shortages has been changing that dynamic, Jackie said. Ukraine has still had some victories despite its low supplies, but it is getting harder. Russia has been pushing forward.

Jackie said that before the shortages really began to hit hard, Ukraine had often used its artillery to suppress Russia’s own artillery, allowing what he called Ukraine’s superior infantry to dominate Russia’s while being targeted less.

A Russian general last year even acknowledged that Ukraine was beating Russia in this type of fighting, counter-battery combat, and bloodying Russia’s forces.

Jackie said that “when our guys do infantry versus infantry battle with the Russians, we crush them. We do it all the time, it’s not special at this point.”

“We need only suppress Russian artillery and armor,” he said. “Once the fight is infantry to infantry, we win.”

But shells and rockets have run so low that the tactic now cannot be relied on consistently by Ukraine, he explained.

When Ukraine has enough ammunition, “we can just hold the Russian artillery at bay while we do very clever things and use our human capital and our intelligence to work at the zero line with our infantry. That’s normal for us and we do a great job of it.”

“But once our artillery goes to near zero, that tips the scale significantly on the Russian side.”

Jackie said Ukraine’s troops had been keeping shells in reserve as much as possible, having to pass on some targets because they were not considered enough of an immediate threat.

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Shortages in Avdiivka

When fighting for the eastern town of Avdiivka earlier in the year, month, some of his crews would start days knowing they had zero rounds they could fire, he said.

He said that in the last week before Ukraine withdrew from the key town in February, “our artillery finally ran out.”

two people, on in camo, both wearing helmets, walk on dirt road by destroyed 4-story building
Two Ukrainian soldiers walk along the destroyed city in the fog on October 26, 2023 in Avdiivka, Ukraine.

The White House said Ukraine had to withdraw — giving Russia its first big victory in months — due to a lack of ammunition. It blamed “congressional inaction” for why Ukraine’s soldiers had to ration supplies, as House Republicans stall $60 billion worth of further aid to Ukraine.

Jackie agreed, saying a lack of ammunition was “absolutely my assessment” of why Ukraine had to pull out of the town.

His fellow troops fought there and helped with Ukraine’s pullout. He said that they kept a corridor open for Ukraine’s troops to retreat down.

As an instructor, Jackie went close to the town but not into the hottest fighting, where his men went, and there collected his unit’s testimony.

Jackie’s brigade is still stationed in the area, and the problematic shortage is continuing.

Urging allies

European countries are still helping Ukraine, but many have said they do not have enough in their arsenals to give to Ukraine. And not enough new weaponry is being made, only exacerbating the problems.

New initiatives are underway to attempt to help bridge that gap, including a Czech Republic-led initiative to bring one million shells to Ukraine that were sourced outside of Europe. The first are expected to arrive in June.

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Jackie urged the US to keep supporting Ukraine, saying: “We’re not screwing around. We’re not spending expensive missiles to take out one guy or anything like that. We know we have to be economical with all this material, and we are being extremely precise and extremely economical with all this stuff. “

He said that the Ukrainians are using the supplies it is getting extremely well, hurting Russia’s army and taking out Russian aircraft and ships despite Ukraine having a much smaller air force and no warships.

“That’s why all these jets are falling. That’s why all these tanks are being destroyed. All these munitions are going straight at the Russian army, and it’s working really well. How many ships have been sunk at this point?”

He said Ukrainians share American values and are fighting for freedom and that supporting Ukraine is supporting a democracy — all reasons why he said the US should not give up support.

“We are not going to lose,” he said. “That is not going to happen. It’s not possible. We’ll die before we lose.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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